The Desert Fireball Network

Presented by Dr Ellie Sansom, The Desert Fireball Network

A meteorite fall precisely observed from multiple locations allows us to track the object back to the region of the Solar System it came from, and sometimes link it with a parent body, providing context information that helps trace the history of the Solar System. The Desert Fireball Network (DFN) is built in arid areas of Australia: its observatories get favourable observing conditions, and meteorite recovery is eased thanks to the terrain. After the successful recovery of two meteorites with 4 film cameras, the DFN has now switched to a digital network, operating 51 cameras, covering 3 million km2 of double station triangulatable area. Mostly made of off-the-shelf components, the new observatories are cost effective while maintaining high imaging performance. To process the thousands of all-sky images generated (70TB/month), a significant effort has been put to writing an automated reduction pipeline so that all events are reduced with little human intervention. Innovative techniques have been implemented for this purpose: machine learning algorithms for event detection, blind astrometric calibration, and particle filter simulations to estimate both physical properties and state vector of the meteoroid. On 31 December 2015, the first meteorite from the digital systems was recovered from Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre South: Murrili (a 1.6kg H5 ordinary chondrite). The second meteorite recovered by the digital network was found 6 days after it fell on Halloween night in 2016 in the Western Australian wheatbelt. The analysis and the recovery team were quick enough to organise the search and recover the rock (named Dingle Dell) before it rained. This prevents contamination and weathering of the meteorite, further adding to the scientific value of the sample. Another 17 events have been flagged as potential meteorites droppers across WA, SA and NSW, and are to be searched in the coming months.

Bio: Ellie joined the Desert Fireball Network team in December 2012 after completing an MSci in geophysics at Imperial College, London. She has recently completed her Phd with the DFN and will be continuing with the team as a postdoc. She has been looking at ways to improve trajectory modelling - determining how big the fireball bodies are, what they’re made of, and whether there will be any meteorites to find. She also collaborates with experts in tracking techniques at the Defense, Science and Technology Group in Adelaide.

Free – visitors welcome – booking not required

(*Please note – university security locks entrance doors at 8pm sharp*)

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Event info

Wednesday 06 Sep 2017

8:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Kerr Grant Theatre 2nd Floor Physics Building, University of Adelaide, North Terrace



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